Sharkwater (Digital Download Soundtrack) by Jeff Rona

 

 

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May 22, 2008

 

Composer Jeff Rona
Ceremonies and Symphonies - Page 2

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
  Interview: PAGE 1 | PAGE 2
 

Jeff Rona at the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center

Jeff Rona at the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center

 

Qingdao, China - site of the Olympic Regatta

Qingdao, China - site of the Olympic Regatta

 

   
  Interview: PAGE 1 | PAGE 2


Composer Jeff RonaCC: Since this is "Olympic music," do you feel that pressure of having Leo Arnaud's Bugler's Dream or John Williams' memorable olympic-theme hovering over you?

JEFF RONA: Yes. Well, it's grand, epic, melodic and uplifting...for the most part. Of course an entire concert of that would be akin to "chinese water torture." About 60% of it is big, epic, thematic and then there are pieces that are more quiet, more reflective or noble. I have written one piece that is performed underneath a piece of poetry. One of China's leading young poets is going to write a poem about the sea and it will be read as this sort of dramatic thing. And then there are going to be some interconnection between my music: some being played on western instruments and then adapted to be played by traditional instruments.

CC: Do you quote the "Bugler's Dream" or John Williams' fanfare at all?

JEFF RONA: No. This is all original stuff.

CC: What would you say your biggest challenge was in writing this?

JEFF RONA: To feel open enough to write music that didn't necessarily reflect a purely cinematic perspective. These are longer pieces of music and so it was an opportunity to stretch into a more concert-approach.

CC: Do you utilize any soloists like LANG LANG, YO YO MA, VANESSA MAE...or even the pop singer WEI WEI?

JEFF RONA: There is a Chinese violinist, Frank Yang, and he will be performing a violin concerto that I've written. He is quite spectacular and has been in L.A. and San Francisco as the principle violinist of the Alexander String Quartet.

CC: What did you use for inspiration while writing this symphony?

JEFF RONA: Well, they brought me out and gave me a tour of the Olympic village. They essentially flew me out to the city and gave me a special tour of the entire town. We went to a 1000 year old Taoist monastery. We went to visit the concert halls and the beach and this huge Olympic village where some 200,000 will attend just the sailing events. So I was just very moved by the spirit these people have about the whole thing.

CC: So are you looking to blend the feeling of "old world" China with contemporary China?

JEFF RONA: As far as I'm concerned, it's contemporary China. My role is to bring fresh thinking to the entire thing. The music we are doing, although some of it feels very "classic," it's not really. It's my music and not a generic approach to what it means to write Olympic music....I hope. But still, there are lots of trumpets, but no real fanfares. I'm catching the spirit of it, but hopefully doing it in my own ear. Now they could have done this with all Chinese composers and, from what I understand, there is going to be an enormous amount of music written for the games by Chinese composers. But they didn't want Chinese composers doing this particular project. They wanted something a bit more universal. Their composers write with a "Chinese accent" if you will. I don't think I write with an "American accent." I think I speak with a story-teller's accent. So my goals has been to write something with a universal message, because China is slowing attempting to become an open country.

CC: Will there be a release of your music?

JEFF RONA: We are going to record it in July and I'm talking with some people now about releasing it. It probably won't be out before the beginning of the games, but it will be out.

CC: Where would you say this project rank among all your work to date?

JEFF RONA: Well, you'd probably need to ask that after I record it, but there are quite a few pieces here that I'm really very fond of. A couple of the quieter pieces I've really enjoyed. This mini violin concerto to be played by violin virtuoso soloist and orchestra has been a tremendous feeling of freedom. God I hope it works!

CC: That brings up an interesting thought. Now you've been writing for weeks and have heard the music in your mind and in your mock-ups for a long time. What is the anticipation like in waiting to hear it performed by the full orchestra?

JEFF RONA: My thought is, "God, I hope they can play it!" The level of musicianship in Beijing is phenomenal, especially the string players there. The brass sections have been superb, but they've never played music quite like this. I hear this music in my head, the way I intended it. It's not complicated stuff, but its demanding in that it must be played full-on with a tremendous amount of energy. The orchestras in China are very good when it comes to very traditional or Chinese music. They write and record film music there as well and they sound tremendous. Film scores like HERO are great (one of my favorites from that year) but generally their scores are subtler.

CC: So what is the plan for working with this orchestra and recording?

JEFF RONA: First, they are going to have a month of rehearsals. Now, this is going to be quite different from the process of recording for a film. Normally, when you finish the score, you get it copied, you record it, and then you make changes. It's quite normal to make changes to the score during the recording sessions. For this project, this is going to be very difficult because I won't be there for the rehearsals. So, we've put in a request that they record the rehearsals everyday and send them to us as mp3s. Then we'll listen to them, make notes, and make quick changes if needed. Hopefully, they will be open to the idea of this music being more fluid than playing Beethoven's 3rd Symphony.

CC: Will you stay on for the games?

JEFF RONA: It depends on my schedule. There might be a film that I have to work on which would cut my trip short, but if not, you bet I want to stay!

CC: Well, Jeff congrats on this Olympic project and thanks so much for your time.

JEFF RONA: My pleasure. Talk to you soon.
 


 

Return to (Page 1)

 

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